Reflections On Psalm 7

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A few Saturdays ago I spoke at a church in my hometown back in Virginia, a church in the county where I grew up. It was like a happy family reunion. Friends of all ages were there, but these weren’t just ordinary friends.

These were the friends I played with as a child and the older friends who kept a close eye on me while I played with their children. These friends I huddled with in school hallways or assembled with in church pews. These friends laughed with me and cried with me, instructed me and admonished me, encouraged me and consoled me, but above all, they loved me. Real good.

I’m pretty sure they still do.

These are the kind of friends I’ll keep in my heart ’til the day I die.

Where in the world would I be without friends?!? How in the world could I have gotten through some of the toughest times in my life without my friends?!? I ask you.

How could any of us?

And yet, as many true and loyal friends I’ve been blessed to have in my life and as much as I would love to be loved by everyone, I know I’m not. I know there are people out there who just don’t like me. Maybe they haven’t told me to my face. Maybe they haven’t openly confessed it. Maybe they haven’t shown it in any way, shape or form. But, I’m pretty sure they’re there.

Sigh.

Tucked away in a safety deposit box of my memory bank is a time I was the victim of bullying. I’ve tucked it away as a reminder that not everyone in this world has a heart of sensitivity and compassion.

I can understand what it’s like to be “hated.”

I was in the seventh grade. I really don’t know why ‘this girl’ hated me. I don’t know why she just up one day and began following me around the halls, taunting me, calling me names, laughing in the face of her own hostility. I ignored and ignored and ignored her until one day I snapped. I twirled around and told her to STOP!!  But she only laughed some more.

I suspect my retaliation was exactly the response ‘this girl’ was looking for. Because the next day, as she followed behind me in the halls, laughing her wicked laugh, her intense dislike for me grew to physical aggression and she pushed me.

I remember my heart racing with fear, but still…I held my head high and I walked on.

One day my antagonizer took her aggression to the next level and physically kicked me. I’m thinking she was hoping for a fight in which she would prove her dominance.

What she failed to realize is that she kicked me right smack in front of the school office. It happened before the first bell rang, early in the morning, and the office was teaming with teachers, children, parents.

I don’t know what came over me, I can only hope it was righteous indignation, but I burst into that busy office and demanded to speak to the principal. The school receptionist, who was a member of my church, stopped what she was doing…as did everyone else…and asked, “Nina, What’s wrong?!”

I pointed to ‘this girl’ whose face registered shock that I had finally found my courage and said, “She kicked me! For no reason!!!” And with that, I burst into tears.

Although my aggressor never bothered me again after that, I still always wondered, “What did I ever do to make her hate me so?”

I honestly couldn’t come up with a reason. Although we grew up living in the same county and attending the same schools, we never spoke again. Ever.

But, I can still see her face.

David had a lot of enemies. Sometimes I’m sure he wondered, too. Wondered what he’d done to make some people hate him. I imagine those in high places have a lot of enemies, but I like to think that David did the best he could to be fair. To be honest. To be kind.

No, David wasn’t perfect. Far from it. But, he was a God-seeker and he strived to keep short accounts with God.

When his enemies came against him, I’d like to think he, too, asked the question, “What did I ever do to make them hate me so?”

Because David wanted to have a heart that was pure before God. If he had wronged someone, he wanted to make it right. If he had hurt someone, he wanted to know and he was willing to accept the consequences.

In Psalm 7, he tells God, “O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it: And let him trample my life down to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.” 

All through the psalms we see prayers lifted up to God for deliverance from the enemy. Deliverance from those who hate. Those who trample all over the lives of the innocent. Those who give no thought to the sanctity of the human heart.

When I wonder, “Why, Lord? Why are people so cruel?” I may not get an answer, but I get a prayer…

“O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, Or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver…Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.” Verses 1-2 & 6

…because God is on my side. When I am innocent of wrongdoing and I don’t deserve someone’s hatred and wrath and rage, God is my Vindicator. My Judge. My Deliverer.

It’s a sin-sick world and many don’t know the love of my Jesus. All they know is hatred and rage. And who knows all the reasons why they hate? I could name a million of them, but I don’t have the time or the space.

All I know is…Jesus said in John 15: 18 & 19, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

With that, I will close. Because I really don’t know what else to say except maybe this…

I wonder, “Is ‘that girl’ I once considered an enemy still filled with hatred?” Maybe not for me, but for someone else.

Because I can still see her face and I pray she’s found the love of Jesus instead.

I’d like to think that if I knew her now, she wouldn’t be my enemy.

She’d be my friend.

 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The Friends Who Come To My Pity-Parties

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My husband and I moved to North Carolina from Virginia almost eight years ago. Not only did we leave behind our family, our church family, and the home where we’d lived for twenty years raising our sons, but I put almost three hours of driving distance between myself and my ‘band of sisters.’

That’s what I call the girlfriends who have been with me through thick and thin, through storms and smiles, drama and delight, silence and screams, prayer and praise. Gosh, how I adore these four sisters-in-Christ ’cause we all adore Jesus and that’s such a wonderful thing to share.

These ladies and I actually met in church, at different times, but we all met in Bible study. One year I taught a study on prayer. They were part of a group who just didn’t want to stop praying together when the study ended. So….we kept on meeting together, sharing blessings and burdens, praying our little hearts out. Sometimes with tears, sometimes putting dents in the carpet with our knees, but always with passion and heart. I miss them like crazy.

Somewhere along the way I dubbed these girls my ‘band of sisters.’ You know…like ‘band of brothers.’ Why should only the guys get a name that speaks to such fierce loyalty, bound together like glue? I like the fact that me and these girls are one-in-the-Spirit, one-mind-in-the-Christ, and one-love-in-the-Lord.

When I moved to North Carolina I thought my relationship with these ladies would change, but I’m happy to say we’re still connected. I may not be able to carry on telephone conversations because of my hearing disability, but I’ve developed some seriously amazing typing skills. I’ve got a computer keyboard and a smartphone text pad that serve me very well. All this typing has done wonders to strengthen my arthritic fingers.

We girls still send out emails, Facebook messages, and the ever-increasing-vital-to-survival texts. At least for me! I could not live without texting. The first couple of years after moving my husband had to up our phone plan several times before he finally gave in and went ‘unlimited’. I pleaded my case with my usual theatrical flare….”But it’s my lifeline! I can’t live without it!”

I gotta admit, in the eight years since I’ve been in my sleepy-little-but-largely-adorable-small-town there’ve been times when I’ve been incredibly lonely. One thing about small town life is that most everybody is either related by blood or related by marriage and generations of families have grown up and lived locally for like…FORe-E-e-ver! It’s hard to break in a ‘come-here.’ And I get that. I lived in pretty much one locality my whole life, too, before we moved.

I hate to admit this, but I’m just gonna come out and say it…I’m the queen of pity-parties. Sometimes my rotten self just likes to feel sorry. I don’t guess there’s really anything spiritual about that. It’s just me being honest about me. When we moved, one of the hardest things for me was not knowing anyone at all. I mean, not one single soul. No one to invite to my parties. So I had to have them by myself. And…can I just say? They weren’t a whole lot of fun.

So…in my loneliness and my desperation…I started inviting Jesus to my parties. Unbelievably, astonishingly, and GRATEfully I was so glad He came. For anyone who thinks Jesus doesn’t care I can testify that He does. I don’t think I’ve ever been so desperate for Him my entire life. We’ve had some ups and downs these last few years that have threatened to derail my sense of purpose. I’ve done some serious soul-searching and blatant honesty in seeking the face of God. Believe it or not, it’s been a really good thing.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

So that’s exactly what I’ve done! I cast it all…even my sorry self.

Along the way these last few years, I’ve met some wonderful new friends, but when it comes to throwing a pity-party I still go to my band of Virginia sisters. I can’t help it. They just know me so well. Especially my bestie. She and I still do Bible studies together and on Sunday afternoons we’ll Facebook chat about what we’ve learned, share how God has voiced His Word to us, moved us to greater faith, and stirred our hearts to connect with His.

Recently, as I was sharing during one of these chats, I got incredibly carried away. I started typing and couldn’t stop. That Facebook message must have been at least 6 inches long. I pounded the ‘enter’ key and the kitchen table actually rattled…oops…and waited patiently for her reply,

“Oh…I get it…you’re having a pity-party! Yes!! I will come.”

I actually laughed out loud. Only her…

She then proceeded to coat her words, typed in the usual Roman-style font, with the sweetness of a home-baked, three-layer chocolate cake layered with lots of cream cheese icing, topped with a few juicy, ripe strawberries, stuck in some candles and THEN…God love her…she lighted them!!!

But, just so you know, Jesus was at this party, too.

Because Jesus is in the midst of a friendship when He is the center of attention. Jesus is in the midst of a band of sisters when He is the Person of devotion. Jesus is in the midst of me when He is the Friend of compassion. It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling or what kind of party I’m having…Jesus will come.

No, not everyone will come to a pity-party. Not everyone wants to be around someone who throws them. I know better than to invite just anyone, but Jesus isn’t just ANYone. He’s my F.R.I.E.N.D…God love Him…and He lights all the candles on the cakes at my parties. He may not always tell me what I want to hear, but He will tell me what I need to hear, just like my bestie, and that means more to me than anything.

Pity-parties may not be a God-thing, but it’s a God-thing when Jesus shows up and shakes me up. It’s a God-thing when I invite Jesus and He changes my perspective with every word He speaks over me, with every candle He lights. Oh, I need Him so very much.

Jesus…Faithful Friend, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Matthew 15:13

My band of sisters…forever friends, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

I always know when the party’s over, though. After a while it’s time for everyone to go home. Jesus has done His part and it’s up to me to blow out the candles and discard the cake. Because my Jesus-lovin’ girlfriends know this, too, I’m so thankful He’s been in our midst.